Legal Considerations for Buy-To-Let property

Before purchase

Freehold or Leasehold property

Some leasehold agreements can contain lettings and sub-letting restrictions.  There may also be restrictive covenants in the lease which you would need any prospective tenants to abide by.

Auction property

Auctions are an opportunity to purchase property at competitive prices.  Auctions can also help you acquire a property quickly as there are no chains and associated risk of a deal falling through.  However, this speed can also expose you to risks without forward planning.

The moment the hammer falls:

  • Exchange of contract is considered to occur, 10% deposit is usually payable immediately
  • Completion is usually required within 28 days of the auction.

It is recommended that any surveys, appropriate finance needs and legal considerations are in place before the Auction day.

New build property

Exchange is usually expected within 28 days from receipt of contract paperwork from the developer.

Property conveyancing for new builds can be more involved than established property.  The set-up and legitimacy of planning permissions, building regulations certification, structural guarantees, estate roads, drains and sewers and services must be thoroughly checked to remove scope for legal complications later.

Often you will purchase new build property while it’s still under construction.  You are likely to be given a completion date by the vendor termed as “on notice”.  This usually means that when the property is signed off by Building Control your legal representative is given approximately two weeks to complete the purchase.

A new build property will usually include restrictive covenants and some positive covenants, preventing certain uses of the property as well as alterations or additions to the property, alongside ensuring the buyer maintains fences etc.  This documentation should be checked to understand suitability as an investment property and also that potential tenants will respect any restrictive covenants.

How the property is to be owned

It is extremely important when buying a property jointly to consider how the beneficial interests of the property should be held with respect to:

  • Legal rights of ownership
  • Tax structure – Income position, estate planning and inheritance
  • Raising of finance –  Mortgage eligibility and availability.

Buying with a tenant already in the property

This may be convenient but also will mean that the existing tenancy agreement should be checked carefully and then transferred over to you.

Buying a property to setup as an HMO (House in Multiple Occupation)

Be aware of the cost to make your property legally compliant prior to any purchase.  There are rules specific to the set-up, classification and on-going management of HMO dwellings .

After Purchase

On-going legal and safety requirements for letting your property

Letting agents and property management companies can provide information on the current legal requirements.  Using a letting agent will help to ensure you remain compliant if you don’t have the time or resources to manage the property yourself.

Problem tenants

If you are using a letting agent then the hope is that most problems are resolved quickly and usually the agent will serve the relevant legal notices as needed.

Where no resolution is found, professional legal assistance may be needed for:

  • Rent arrears
  • Re-possession.

Change of status

Professional legal services can assist with:

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